Maryland volleyball closed out its final home game of the regular season with a loss against No. 19 Purdue in four sets.
Maryland came into their final home game with a 4-8 record at the Xfinity Pavilion and an overall record of 15-15. In this home finale, they faced a Purdue team that they beat back in October. At the time, the win capped off a three-game road winning streak and was the program’s first-ever road victory over a top-ten opponent.
The Terps brought that same success into the first set, going on the first run. Later in the set, the two teams traded 3-0 scoring runs, tying the score at 23. Sam Csire stung her fourth kill, bringing it to set point. That’s when Rainelle Jones tipped the ball over the net for the set-winning kill.
The second set was a complete turn from the first. The Terps fell behind early due to a Purdue 6-0 scoring run, making it 11-5. The Boilermakers coasted from there, winning 25-15.
It was a tale of two sets for the Maryland offense. The Terps hit in the negatives in the second set and had five kills after hitting .237% and 15 kills in the first. Purdue’s defense at the net seemed to give the Terps some problems, blocking eight through two.
The Terps started the third set strong with kills from Csire and Laila Ricks. The offense appeared to be back on track earning six kills in the first 18 points of the set.
The Boilermakers continued to strike on offense, going on a 4-0 run. The Terps battled back, and with a Laila Ivey solo block, Maryland tied it at 18.
The end of the set was a real nail-biter, with the two teams trading points. Purdue went on a 3-0 scoring run that put them just two points away from winning the set. That’s exactly what they did, winning 25-22.
Down 1-2 in the match, Maryland started the fourth set on a mission to push the match to five. The Terps started the set on a 6-0 scoring run and held the lead from there. Purdue battled back, eventually taking the lead 16-15.
That lead lasted all of a minute until Jones sparked a 4-0 Maryland run with a kill that gave the Terps a three-point lead. The Boilermakers fought off the Maryland lead to tie the set at 22. The two teams traded points, leading to another tie at 25.
Milan Gomillion sent her serve into the net to give Purdue the lead, but Csire rectified the error with her 18th kill to bring it back to even. Purdue outside hitter Eva Hudson followed that with an attack error and kill knotting the teams up at 27.
Purdue earned the next point via a block. The answer came from Rainelle Jones’s 11th kill of the match.
That kill would be the last score for the Terps as Purdue middle blocker Raven Colvin threw down a kill and then served an ace to win the set for Purdue, 30-28.
The set was a major rollercoaster with points flying back and forth, but one quality that shined through from the Terps was their resilience in a pressure situation, something head coach Adam Hughes wants his players to get comfortable being in.
“That’s what I want to be in. And I want to get there as much as we possibly can because you have some young players and while Sam [Csire] is feeling older, she’s still got a couple of years left. And so the more opportunities we get in those situations, the more we learn how to handle that pressure,” said Hughes.
The match was a great defensive battle between the teams. Maryland’s defense held Hudson to a .103 hitting percentage and putting Colvin in the negatives in hitting percentage.
The defense also registered 18 blocks, but in the end, Hughes said some plays just didn’t go the Terps’ way.
“They were covering a lot of balls. We were blocking a lot of balls; they were blocking some balls, and I think it comes down to you know, a game of inches it’s at times. You know, honestly, when we were at their place, we got lucky on a few scrap plays that went our way, and then tonight, I felt like it went the opposite way,” said Hughes.
The offense just couldn’t find its stride after the first set. The Terps hit under .150% in the last three sets, although they did put up double-digit kills in every set except the second.
Despite the inconsistent offense Sam Csire had a great performance. She ended the night with 18 kills and routinely stepped up when the Terps needed her most.
“I kind of just took it upon myself and said, hey, if you need me, I’m here as an outlet. And when Syd [Sydney Dowler], you know, thought that she needed an outlet I kind of just like I said before, took a big hack,” said Csire. “And it was just staying aggressive because I know the team kind of is relying on me to get us out of tough situations.”
The crowd was electric all night, especially in that final set, as though they were trying to will the team to a victory. Though they couldn’t get them on the victory trail, the crowd cheered the Terps off the court for the final time this year, which meant a lot to the players.
“It’s just made volleyball ten times more fun to play when you’re in a crowd or in a gym where the crowd is on top of you and on top of your opponent. And you know that they got your back it’s like it just brings your confidence up as a team and you know that they’re rooting for you even when you’re down,” said Csire.
Maryland will end their season on the road in Indiana on Friday has they take on the Indiana Hoosiers.